Joint Statement by Chairmen of University Councils Emphasises Disciplinary Actions on Staff and Students

PTU News Reporter

Chairmen of Council of all UGC-funded universities in Hong Kong issued a joint statement on October 20th, stating that staff and students whose conduct is questionable can expect disciplinary actions based on related procedures and mechanisms. These actions include condemnation, temporary suspension, and even expulsion or termination. The PTU issued a press release in response, stating the joint statement is strong-worded and places an emphasis on disciplinary actions, which combine to paint a negative picture.

Joint Statement Fails to Address Public Concerns

Without responding to the current situation, the signatories of the joint statement called for all parties to remain restrained and tolerant as the city seeks its way out of the predicament. The statement is disappointing. The PTU believes the people’s gravest concern is the controversy sparked by the extradition law amendment bill over the past few months as well as the escalating clashes between the police and the public caused by police brutality and abuse of power. The PTU reiterates its opposition against all kinds of violence from all parties, including the police and protesters, and continues to call for all parties to remain restrained. However, the young’s concern and emotions are understandable and a direct result of the government’s deaf ear to the society’s demands. The PTU agrees that everyone, including the police and protesters, should bear consequences of their actions. Therefore, it is paramount that the government establishes an independent inquiry as soon as possible to investigate officials’ responsibility in the matter as well as police brutality and abuse of power. An independent inquiry would also ensure protesters’ just trials and fair treatment.

PTU: Expulsion or Termination not to be Taken Lightly

The joint statement emphasised that all stakeholders of the university must obey the law at all times. It also pointed out staff and students can expect disciplinary actions based on related procedures and mechanisms, including expulsion or termination, which denotes pressure on staff and students as well as white terror.

The PTU calls for the councils of all universities to address controversies on campus with solicitude, understanding, and good nature. Communication with staff and students should be strengthened to gain perspectives from all stakeholders. Protection and support, including psychological counseling and legal aid, should be offered to students. Universities should also ensure all staff and students who face trials are treated in fair manners.

In face of staff and students’ expression of opinions, universities should respect academic freedom and uphold institutional autonomy. Expulsion and termination should only take place under exceptional circumstances.

The PTU agrees that campuses should not become the viral of politics, but universities must remain professional and prioritise the welfare of staff and students. Their freedom of expression and the rights to learn must be protected. All situations on campus must be handled reasonably.

Rocky Tuan Demands Complaints to Be Handled Seriously
Wei Shyy Supports Establishing An Independent Inquiry

On the other hand, Vice-Chancellor and President of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Rocky Tuan met with students for an open dialogue on October 10th. During the meeting, CUHK students gave accounts of police brutality and sexual violence against protesters. They also urged Tuan to condemn the police. The meeting was dismissed in dismay at first, but Tuan met again with students in a closed-door conversation shortly afterwards. Students were said to have apologised to Tuan in the private meeting.

Tuan published an open letter on October 18th, saying he understood students’ mistrust in existing complaint mechanisms against the police. He said that he would write to Chief Executive Carrie Lam to urge her to initiate an independent inquiry on the 20 or so complaints the university had received regarding police misconduct. He also said all proven cases of ‘improper use of force or violations of human rights by certain police officers’ must be condemned.

President of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Wei Shyy also engaged in a dialogue with students on November 6th, in which he voiced his support for an independent inquiry. He also said that he would write to the Commissioner of Police and demand an account for guidelines on the use of tear gases.